Trip to Niagara Falls

with some of my sisters from the Toronto community
For those of you who have lost track of me ( I know, I lose track myself!), I am now in Toronto staying with my religious community for a few weeks. Ten days ago I had my last exam so I was free to leave Ottawa and head back to community life here in Canada until the end of August. Wednesday was spent vacating my room and packing but in the evening we took time out for pizza to welcome back our Deschatelets companions who had been travelling over these past few weeks. On Thursday I took an early bus from Ottawa to Toronto, a five hour trip on the national bus service, Greyhound. The time went by quite quickly and soon I was at Downtown Toronto perfectly on schedule. Two of our sisters kindly came to meet me and we made the journey to our community which is in York, about a good half hour from Downtown.
One of the great things about religious life is that no matter which community I go to in any part of the world, I immediately feel at home. This is the beauty of sharing in a common mission and a common vocation. The prayers may be in a different language but the familiarity of our way of living and of praying transcends any of these difficulties allowing me to slot in straight away. The sisters have given me a warm welcome and I am enjoying living with them and getting to know them as I take these days of holidays and rest.

On Sunday, we had an early start as we left for the marvellous Niagara Falls! Apparently you cannot come to Canada, not to mention Toronto, without visiting the Falls. Looking at the weather forecast I was a little hesitant; thunderstorms and rain, humidity at 80 percent but off we set anyway!  Niagara is about an hour or so journey from where we were so we arrived in good time before the crowds descended. Before such a marvel of God, one can only utter ‘WOW’! Yes, Niagara has the WOW factor! I really felt like I was living the First Reading of the Sunday liturgy: "For thus says the Lord: Lo, I will spread prosperity over her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent."(Book of Isaiah). We walked along by the Falls, took lots of photographs and felt the power of the water as we watched it surge and plunge huge depths. At one point, you walk by and the mist is so strong that you would need your umbrella! It reminded me of the refreshing Irish drizzle! The weather was somewhat cloudy but that it made it pleasant for wandering around and taking in the wonderful panorama. We headed up to some of the spots where you can get a wonderful view of the Horseshow Falls. Looking across the Falls you can see many of our friends from the United States experiencing the grandeur and taking the ‘Maid of the Mist’ to go out on the river and experience the Falls from another perspective. I declined to go out on the boat, I was happy enough to watch from dry land! Walking downtown, away from the Falls, it was a typical tourist area with lots of shops and restaurants to choose from. One of the main attractions of Niagara, sadly, is the number of casinos and many are drawn there just for that. Photo gallery

Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of New York. Located on the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, the combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world, with a vertical drop of more than 165 feet (50 m). Horseshoe Falls is the most powerful waterfall in North America, as measured by vertical height and also by flow rate.

It was soon time for lunch and I soon realised that I was in the midst of some of the most efficient and organised picnickers! So we sat ourselves on the grass and enjoyed our lunch, replenishing our energy for some more visiting. From Niagara Falls, we headed up to Queen Street which provided a perfect location for some more photo opportunities with its many novelties of typical Canadian scenery and mascots. There we also had the chance to watch the fascinating art of glass blowing in the Rossi Glass Factory Outlet.  At that stage, it was time to hit the road to go home before the crazy traffic started. We had just unloaded the car and were inside when the heavens opened and down came the rain! Talk about good timing! Tired but satisfied, we enjoyed the rest of the Day of the Lord, praising his name through prayer and the celebration of Vespers.

As I write, it seems there is another Niagara Falls out on the balcony, but not as pleasant. Torrential rain, cloudbursts and a huge thunderstorm are battling away out there. Fire engines and ambulances have been whizzing by for the past half hour but hopefully everyone is safe!  What a force nature can be. It can amaze us and terrify us at the same time. Let us pray that we may do what we can to ensure that nature is respected and protected at all times. Photo gallery.